Helpful pre-shoot tips for improving your iPhone video and photos

Before you start shooting with your Helium Core iPhone camera rig, there are some basic steps you can take to improve the quality of your videos and photos. A simple mnemonic for remembering these 5 steps is C.A.F.E.S., which represents:

Clean your lens
Airplane mode
Focus on subject
Expose correctly
Stabilize phone

CLEAN YOUR LENS

This step is one of the most overlooked steps in getting better images and videos. Your smartphone’s camera lens is exposed to multiple sources of dirt and grime during regular use. Greasy fingers, bits of food, dust, lint and other types of dirt can make your image look soft and distorted, or even partially obscure the camera, which might make you miss an important subject in your photo.

Take a look at the lens cover before you shoot - if it’s dusty, you can use a dedicated camera blower to clean it off. In a pinch, you can blow on it with your mouth, but you may end up making the lens cover dirtier. Sometimes, static electricity causes the dust to remain. Using a soft-bristled lens brush can help remove those stubborn particles.
If your lens cover is oily or has fingerprints, apply a drop of lens cleaning solution, and gently clean it with a lens tissue or microfiber lens cloth.

AIRPLANE MODE

To ensure that you’re not interrupted by a call or a text while you’re recording a video or taking a photo, be sure to set your phone into airplane mode. In addition to removing interruptions and distractions, it also helps to prolong your battery life a little.

iPhone screen shot showing airplane mode

 

KEEP YOUR SUBJECT IN FOCUS

This seems like a pretty obvious tip, but

  1. It can be difficult to see what’s in focus on your screen because of its size
  2. People forget to do it all the time

All photo and video apps have a way of changing the focus point of your phone’s camera, whether automatically or manually. Make it a point to use those features to set your subject in focus before you do anything else, or you may rue your missed opportunity to create a great video.

 

iPhone screen shot showing in and out of focus shots

EXPOSE CORRECTLY

To “expose correctly” means to ensure that the right amount of light has reached the camera sensor on your phone. In most cases, that translates to an image that isn’t too dark and shadowy or too bright, to the point you can’t see the details in your subject or the scene you’re shooting.

All photo and video apps also provide you with the ability to change the exposure. On iPhones, the native camera app has a little square that lets you make the image brighter or darker by swiping up and down on it.

 

  • iPhone screen shot showing exposure settings on native photo app

STABILIZE YOUR PHONE
Your phone is small and light, and while it may be comfortable for making calls or using apps, it’s not comfortable to use as a camera for an extended period of time. The key challenge is the lack of ergonomics when using the iPhone as a camera, which results in shaky footage or blurred photographs.

The best way to stabilize your phone is to use a tripod, but if you don’t have one handy, you can try the age-old technique of finding something solid like a wall, pillar or pole, and leaning against it to steady yourself.

These 5 steps are the foundation on which you can create amazing photos and videos, so always keep in mind that “CAFES” = better iPhoneography.

* Technically, the camera lens cover